To hear Hal Hunter talk about Kevin Zeitler and Mike Remmers, they’re a little bit like The Odd Couple. And a lot like the key to a successful offensive line this season.
Zeitler would be the Felix – serious and focused, sometimes to the point that Hunter, the Giants’ offensive line coach, wonders if he’s going to mentally exhaust himself. And that’s why he vibes well with a guy like Remmers, who is a little looser, and has a little more fun. You know, like Oscar.
“I think we balance each other out nice,” Zeitler said. “I’m the very hyper-focused, ‘let’s get this done’ type. He takes a little lighter focus. He likes to joke around and have a good time out there, so I think it’s a nice balance and it keeps us both level.”
But of course, it goes beyond all that. The Giants desperately need their offensive line to mesh, and they need it to happen quickly, because this training camp is the first time that right-side duo will work together. The last few years have been a pretty damning referendum on the unit, and the hope is that the addition of Zeitler at right guard and Remmers at right tackle will be part of the equation that rights the ship. Along with Nate Solder, who’s got two Super Bowls under his belt, the Giants have an offensive line that is seasoned, battle hardened, and tasked with protecting a 38-year-old quarterback and a prized, young running back.
Add to that Will Hernandez, who was just fine as a rookie and will have to build on what he learned last year, and the return of Jon Halapio at center, and you could very well have a group that has turned from liability to strength. In fact, the Giants actually have two options at center, since there will be a position battle between Halapio and Spencer Pulley, who took over for Halapio when he broke his ankle and leg in Week 2. Hunter thinks they’ll probably decide after the first three preseason games.
And all that sounds just great to Hunter, who said the influx of experience has reverberated throughout the room, even this early in training camp.
“It brings a professionalism, some confidence, guys that have been there before that you know the game isn’t too big for them,” Hunter said Thursday at the Giants training facility. “All of a sudden you have guys with hundreds of NFL snaps under their belt, thousands of NFL stats. It’s a big difference … I think there’s a more serious focus on kind of an old-school approach in there now. That’s what those players bring.
“It’s got a different makeup, mentally.”
Remmers, who was part of the offensive juggernaut that was the Super Bowl 50 Panthers, underwent back surgery in the offseason, but Hunter said he’s been tested plenty and has come out of it well. Zeitler was rated the best pass-blocking guard in the game by Pro Football Focus.
Hunter called Zeitler “the most serious, focused, all about football guy I’ve ever been around.
“You love being around a guy like that. I worry about him getting exhausted mentally because he’s so focused and so tuned in, but I think he starts to rub off on the other guys. Every day, he’s a man on a mission … You can tell it’s something that’s working through the room.”
And that isn’t limited to just the offensive line. Evan Engram can attest to it.
“You can just see the chemistry they’re building,” the tight end said. “It’s not even [just] on the field. They’re all together in the meeting rooms and when they come on the field, it’s all business. You see them working …You see them competing.”